Film Review: Gringo

Frances Winston feels that Gringo, in the right hands, could have been funnier, with some good performances, but at times missing its mark.

Directed by: Nash Edgerton –  Starring: David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, Amanda Seyfried, Thandie Newton, Sharlto Copley, Paris Hilton

Boasting an extremely impressive cast, this action-comedy-drama sees Oyelowo playing underdog, Harold Soyinka. His wife’s extravagances have him on the verge of bankruptcy, and he discovers that his friend and boss, Richard (Edgerton) is about to sell the company he works for, leaving him unemployed.

Overwhelmed by Richard’s deceit, he stages his own kidnapping while on a business trip to Mexico, in an attempt to extort a ransom from the company’s insurance, to start a new life. Unfortunately for him, Richard has been dealing with some rather dodgy characters, and unbeknownst to him, he is the target of a real kidnap attempt, which leads to a series of outrageous sitations.

Having seen the trailers, I had pretty low expectations for Gringo going in. While it did pleasantly surprise me, it never lives up to its aspirations. The influences of other offerings are peppered throughout Gringo, but it constantly misses its mark, and overshoots. The plot is extremely messy and contrived, and the characters are all completely underdeveloped. Even Paris Jackson’s tiny role reeks of novelty. The entire scene she’s in is somewhat redundant, and could have been handled completely differently.

Oyelowo does a brilliant job as Harold, and Theron seems to relish playing Richard’s partner, double-dealing bitch, Elaine. However, it very much feels like the rest of the cast are dialling it in. Copley in particular is completely wasted here, and is capable of far more.

There are some great moments here, but they are not enough to sustain Gringo, and there are so many twists and turns that they totally lose the surprise element, as you really don’t care about them anymore, about an hour into the movie. It doesn’t help that you can see most of them coming a mile away.

Not as clever or sophisticated as it thinks it is, Gringo won’t stir any strong feelings in you either way. It’s pretty much instantly forgettable. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would, but given how low I had set the bar, that wasn’t hard.

Gringo is not bad or good. It’s simply meh. And that’s one of the worst things a movie can be. It’s a real pity though, because with a bit of a rewrite, and in the hands of a someone with a clear vision, this could have been hilarious.

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